"Togetherness" - Unity Through
7th grade | 3 or 4 days
Program: The Achdoot
program is a camping excursion for students in 7th grade or higher.
Over the course of three days and two nights, students are completely
immersed in the natural world. From the moment they watch the
sunrise, during morning t'fillot, until the sun sets and the campfire
is lit for warmth and light, students are acutely aware of the
challenges, wonders, rhythms, and beauty of the world around them.
Goals: The goals of Achdoot
are four-fold: (1) to foster group cohesion and community development,
(2) to teach wilderness skills, (3) to develop self-esteem, and
(4) to engender Jewish environmental ethics.
Group Cohesion and Community Development:
4,000 years ago the Israelites formed their identity as a people
through a 40-year journey in the wilderness. Similarly, Achdoot
participants will come together as a group through a variety
of challenges that they will face during their program, tasks
such as fire-building, and food preparation. In addition, through
group building activities and challenges on our portable low
ropes course, students learn the importance of good communication
skills and the power of cooperation.
Teaching Wilderness Skills: As citizens
of a post-modern society we have lost many of the skills our
ancestors relied on for survival. During this program, students
will re-learn forgotten crafts and knowledge: how to make fires
and natural shelters, how to cook with a cooking stove, and
the nutritional and medicinal uses of local flora.
Developing Self-Esteem: Like the
ancient Israelites who were challenged to live by a new set
of laws and moral norms as they traveled through the wilderness,
so too will Teva students be faced with strange new codes of
behavior. There will be no showers. They will have with them
everything they need for 72 hours. They will rely on the land
for basic needs such as warmth (fire) and water. Yet, with the
guidance of Teva instructors and chaperones, students will learn
how to thrive in their new environment. They will emerge more
confident and independent; they will return to "civilization"
having developed a more intimate relationship with the natural
world and more deeply appreciative of the natural resources
that make modern conveniences accessible in our lives.
Jewish Environmental Ethics: In
Midrash Kohelet Rabbah it is written, "When God created the
first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and
said, 'Look at my works. See how beautiful they are - For your
sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and
destroy my world; for if you do there will be no one else to
repair it.' "
As students are led through the "gardens" which are our state
parks, many develop a sense of awe and appreciation for the natural
world. The emotional connections they develop with the landscape
then serve as a catalyst for discussion of current environmental
issues. Students examine both the science underlying each problem
and relevant Jewish texts and concepts that may offer us a response.
They will leave the program not only with a deeper understanding
of the environmental crisis and a renewed sense of commitment
to caring for all of God's creation, but also with visceral knowledge
of how reliance on Earth's resources provides the luxuries that
we too often take for granted.
In the evenings, students participate in all group programs,
including discussions of Jewish texts and singing and storytelling.
T'fillot: Prayers may be scheduled
and led by the group's leaders with assistance from Teva staff
members. Blessings are said before and after eating and taught
for other natural events as a means of cultivating awareness and
expressing wonder and gratitude.
Safety: All Teva staff members are
first aid and CPR certified and carry first aid kits at all times.
They also receive basic wilderness medical training. In addition,
an emergency vehicle will be at base camp throughout the trip.
Staff: Each program will be led by
two Teva camping specialists and accompanied by at least one teacher/chaperone.
Location: All Achdoot programs will
take at a group campsite in a State Park. Specific Park information
will be given to schools individually.